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VINE VOICEon 3 May 2009
Betfair is without doubt one of the biggest British business success stories of the last 10 years. When the mainstream media's idea of business coverage is the jumped up egotists on 'The Apprentice' it is refreshing to have a book that highlights the global success of a modern forward, thinking company.

In the past 8 years Betfair and its concept of allowing punters to back and lay with each other rather than via bookmakers has completely revolutionised an industry, reducing prices for punters, highlighting possible cheating and in the process thoroughly annoying the incumbent traditional bookmakers who had had it good for so long.

Colin Cameron's book on Betfair is extremely well researched. He has gained access not only to many senior figures within Betfair but also from throughout the gambling industry, both peers of Betfair and the bookmakers who they competed with. His book covers all aspects of the Betfair story, from the background of the founders, the hard work of the initial idea, the constant battle with the incumbent bookmakers right through the wider impacts of the concept and the changes the industry can expect in the future.

The book is well written and engaging. My only complaint would be that it isn't written in chronological order and thus jumps around slightly. This I would imagine would make the book a difficult read for someone who isn't already familiar with Betfair. Also, as someone who knows quite a bit about Betfair, I felt that a few (but not many) points were missed, such as the fact that regulation of people acting as bookmakers on Betfair is irrelevant since the company can guarantee that they will always pay out, or the importance digital odds played in allowing punters to trade out of positions at low gains thus generating more liquidity.

All in all, a great read though about one of the most innovative companies of recent years.
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on 9 May 2011
Betfair has without doubt been the most exciting development in the world of gambling since - well probably since time began. So how does this book measure up?
The book's strengths are when the author interviews Betfair's founders, Andrew Black and Ed Wray. The reader gets a real flavour for the obstacles involved in getting such a simple but perfect idea up and running. Racing Post editor Bruce Millington and ex William Hill chief John Brown also provide insights -the latter still doesn't appear to 'get it' and remains convinced that only licensed bookmakers should be allowed to lay bets.
The book also reveals how close Betfair initially came to failing through lack of capital until its merger with chief market rival Flutter generated the necessary funds.
Of less interest to this reader was the lengthy account of Betfair's attempts to penetrate the key foreign markets, starting with Australia.
Horse racing in the UK is on the brink of a financial crisis and many feel that Betfair does not contribute enough to the UK racing industry.
You will need to look elsewhere for the pros and cons of this argument as the author neglects to include it - a serious omission IMHO.
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on 13 May 2009
I am not accustomed to betting, and am not particularly interested in the topic. At least, that was what I thought until I read this utterly absorbing and engaging account of that world. I have read other sporting books written by Colin Cameron and he manages to make each topic about which he writes come to life with his descriptions of the quirky and driven characters who inhabit the particular world, whether it be soccer, horse racing or now gaming. This is a book which will fascinate you, appall you and make you laugh out loud in equal measure. But more than that it will move you to get off your backside and follow your dreams.If you do so, maybe like the protagonists in this beautifully reserached book, they will come true after all. Highly recommended.
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on 28 December 2009
The author is apparently an experienced journalist, but from the very beginning I was shocked by the appalling use of punctuation, or should I say lack of it. I could have over-looked this short-coming, but what was even more of a turn-off was the lack of any balance. From start to finish this was a Betfair press-release. How brilliant the concept, and founders are, how they have changed the face of gambling, how they have done bookmakers and bettors a favour etc etc.

The author should have done his research properly, because if he had he would have discovered that Betfair doesn't offer better odds than all bookies, which he implies throughout. The 5% commission on top of any market margin is routinely bettered by a host of online bookmakers, but instead he kept trotting out how Betfair creamed highstreet bookmakers; that maybe true but the competition doesn't begin and end at the British highstreet.

The company is a success, the website is solid and the concept clever, but that isn't the whole story. The author suggests that Betfair's ability to track players makes it 100% accountable regarding insider betting. That is just nonsense. There was also only a couple of pages dedicated to the Premium Charging fiasco which caused uproar among Betfairites and surely signalled the changed from 'winners welcome' to 'we want an IPO so we prefer mugs'. Several chapters were also dedicated to examples of similar successes to Betfair; this section should have been much shorter as it took the reader too far off topic and was perhaps a way of padding out the book.

Betfair has had to abandon a lot of its original principals in order to grow (introducing Arcade games for example and constraining the freedom of its forum) and keep fighting expensive legal battles, and this has lost it a lot of kudos among the betting fraternity but this wasn't mentioned once, which is a shame, because a bit of balance could have made this into a half decent read.
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on 26 November 2011
I can only imagine that the author had enough story to fill a magazine article because most of this book is filler. And badly written filler at that.
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on 13 September 2009
I'm wondering if I read the same book as the other reviewers?

This has to be one of the most badly written business books I have ever read.
The sentence construction is so clunky and so devoid of any rhythm and flow my guess is that the editor gave up on page 3.

Shame, because the subject is fascinating. If you buy this book don't expect the story of how two men actually built a fantastic company. If you instead want a load of old waffle and Mr Camerons pondering on the world of gambling/life you may enjoy this.

I didn't.
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on 13 February 2011
An interesting and facinating story of how two men with a simple idea created and grew a business in a very competitive field to become a dominant force in the world of gambling. A must read for anybody interested in gambling or the business world.
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on 18 June 2009
Yawn! What a boring book, I gave up after 3 chapters due to the author constantly referring to the chance meeting of the co-founders...amongst other boring things that didn't really progress the story.

I have to award this book the worst read of my life...boring mindless drivel!

I use Betfair almost every day and the concept fascinated me from the start. I was really hoping to get something from this book and would have accepted anything after the first chapter and a half but the only thing it did was help me to sleep.

Maybe I was expecting too much but I certainly cannot recommend this book to anyone other than insomniacs looking for a cure.
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on 15 May 2009
This guy really does know his onions - he knows his sport, especially his racing, and he knows the world of gambling.I like the way he's kept it interesting by looking at in different themes. You definitely do not need to be an anorak to enjoy this. Very accessible. Entertaining read.
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on 16 June 2011
The title and the caption hooked me in but as I read on, the writing style was so bad that I skipped pages to get to the most interesting bits about how the concept was formed and even that droned on with babble and put me off.

I was hugely disappointed with this book. This writer does not do justice to the subject of Betfair or to the entrepreneurs to highlight a successful British business. It is a shame really as other books about dot coms highlight the successes in a much more eloquent way.

I really hope there will be another book about this company.
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